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Hardball With Chris Matthews

News/Business. (2012) (CC)

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Chuck Hagel 8, Us 8, Boehner 7, Israel 6, U.s. 5, Ron Reagan 4, Obama 4, Usaa 4, Cymbalta 4, Washington 4, Gary Ackerman 3, United States 3, Bob Casey 3, Chuck 3, Jack Reed 3, Clinton 3, Sarah Palin 3, Virginia 3, Iraq 3, Pennsylvania 3,
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  MSNBC    Hardball With Chris Matthews    News/Business.  (2012)  (CC)  

    December 20, 2012
    4:00 - 5:00pm PST  

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sleeve pinned to his shirt looking to get a haircut. >> this one barber approached me and he looked at me and he said are you a jap? and, you know, that was a strange welcome. and i said i'm an american. well, i'm asking you, are you a jap? i said my father was born in japan, my mother is japanese, i suppose that makes me one. >> we don't cut jap here. i was so tempted to strike him. but then i thought if i had done that, all the work that we had done would be for nil. so i just looked at him and i said i'm sorry you feel that way. and i walked out. >> he just walked out. sena the senator showed great courage on the battlefield and he showed great courage facing injustice at home. he rose above pettiness. that may be his true greatness and we shall all honor it.
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may he rest in peace. thanks for watching. i'm al sharpton. "hardball" starts right now. >> battle lines. let's play "hardball." >> good evening, i'm chris matthews in washington. let me start with this. it's five days until christmas, 12 till new years and the battle lines are drawn. the trenches have been dug. the president has made his promise and intends to keep it. that promise is fairness. he cannot go along with any republican deal that protects the wealthy. he will risk the cliff to keep his promise. if it comes to it, he'll leap right off of it. to do less would be a sign to his enemies a sign that they can beat him. well u they simply tried. the words out he wants former u.s. senator chuck hagel in
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nebraska for secretary of defense. he's a republly can and a combat veteran of vietnam. the neocons are out to stop him for what he is and what they aren't. he served in war right up front. he opposed unness wars like the ones we've been fighting. fighting and getting ourselves into all of these years. in other words, they opposed the secretary of defense who thinks the man is the commander in chief. there's not an obama vote among them, by the way. u.s. congressman and democrat from virginia. gentlemen, let's talk about the first of these fights. mr. moran, thank you for joining us. tonight, the republicans are engaging in i don't know whether it's a wild goose chase, some sign of something, some test of what? a weakness? why are they voting on something that won't even get to the senate, will never get near the president's desk and if it ever did, he'd love vetoing it. this idea of cutting the tax cuts or protecting the tax cuts of people, all the way up to a million a year.
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>> they're planning some kind of weird, political kobookie dansz. i can't imagine why the speaker is engaged on this kind of thing on, basically, christmas eve. and we're desperate to come to solutions. and, yet, he's moving further away. this race is less than half the revenue. i mean, he may annoy part of his base. but he's doing nothing for the rest of the country. i just -- i don't understand it, frankly, chris. and even millionaires who supposedly get a tax increase, actually get a tax cut according to the tax policy, senator, because there's provision in there that the speaker included that protects their exemption from limiting their deductions for high earners. it's a complicated provision called the ph provision.
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only millionaires and their accountants are going to understand it. but they do understand this isn't going to hurt millionaires. but it does nothing for the rest of the country. and it doesn't move us -- in fact, it moves us further away from any kind of reconciliation with the president. so i think the chances of going over the fiscal cliff were substantially increased today, chris. i wouldn't be at all surprised if we don't go over the cliff. >> i know. it looks that bad. it protects the first millionaire anyway from raising taxes back to the clinton levels. they get the first million free. >> they get the first million free, as the congressman explained. there's this other provision in there that protects them over and above that. >> who is this all for? the press isn't buying it. who's it for? >> i think it's supposed to be for pub lib consumption back home. members can talk about it back home over christmas. look, what seems to have happened is maybe we were close to a deal a few days ago.
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may believe boehner can't sell it. can't sell it to his caucus. so he's retreated to this position that he knows are never going to buy. >> so aparentally, the way the press is reading this thing, boehner is doing this weird side show of his with the million dollar cutoff because he couldn't deliver on a trillion in ten years, which looked like a reasonable proposal. it might have gotten somewhere. >> well, absolutely. and he's further antagonizing more and more of the electorate, chris. and there are things, some things, that are just so unfair, not only does he not provide the
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doc fix, which means that medicare reimbursement for physicians goes up by 30% on january 1st, but he does things like take away the child care tax credit. that means that hundreds of thousands of very low income working mothers are either going to -- well, they're going to have to give up their job or lock their preschool-age children in their apartment. they basically need this tax credit. and, yet, he's taking that away. and he gives a preferential provision for the estate tax. the cost of the estate tax provision, which is $388 billion in speaker boehner's proposal, is equal to the revenue that you would raise by raising the medicare retirement age from 65 to 67 from all medicare enrollees. the numbers are similar. why would you take care of three one thousandths of a percent of
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the population at the extent of paying for it by raising the retirement age for all of medicare. >> well, congressman, it seems to me the mathematic, the arithmetic, as bill clinton would say, is so transparent. 44% of the country voted for romney. the republican candidate. they are protecting less than 1% of the country. so 46% was voting for the interest 06 less than 1 pnt. and now they're making it clear that the 46 are getting screwed. you send an army in the battle to fight for 2% of your party? >> it doesn't seem very smart.
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>> it's very, very founfortunat. the republ licans have wasted a entire week. it's obvious the speaker we're working with this republican team can't get enough votes together to pass much of anything. >> well, speaker boehner argued this afternoon that the democrats haven't done much, either. this is the part that i find very byzantine and can't figure out they're working the solution by making sure nothing happens. let's watch the speaker in action here again. >> president obama and senate democrats haven't done much of anything. their plan b is to slow walk us over the fiscal cliff, and for weeks the white house said that if i moved on rates, that they would make substantial concessions on spending cuts and entitlement reforms. i did my part.
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they've done nothing. listen, i remain hopeful. our country has big challenges, and the president and i are going to have to work together to solve those challenges. >> let's try the politics end of this from the republicans' side, gene. what do you think boehner wants to win? if he wins tonight and gets 218 votes in the house for the million dollar cutoff, what does he do to -- then he goes to the white house and he says something to the president. what is he saying? put up or shut up about the spending cuts? what does he want? >> well, you could guess that maybe he wants bigger spending cuts and maybe he says to the president, look, i know you can't accept this, but give me some more on spending, and i'll sell something more reasonable. maybe that's what he's trying. i don't know. i mean, because he's gone so far with this plan b -- >> mr. moran, in the cloakroom, when you try to read the offense on the other side or defense,
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whatever it is, when you're reading it, what do you see boehner trying to do -- it seems to me most of the people in his caucus are to his right. maybe cantor is only a little to his right, mccarthy, but the mass of them are tea party types. what is he trying to do? >> his end game is unfathomable, but i do have -- there's one possibility, and that may be to ensure that he gets re-elected as speaker of the house, chris. >> but he's -- the caucus has voted for him, right? >> i don't think it actually -- he doesn't actually get sworn in until january. he's assumed to be speaker, but he wants to make sure there will not be a challenge here. you're absolutely right. i can't imagine there is a challenge. so it seems like a far-fetched reason to be going through all this, but somehow he's trying to appease the right wing of his party. i can't imagine that he doesn't understand how badly this looks, not just outside the beltway,
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even within the beltway. we can't figure it out. he knows he has to compromise. he knows if he waits until january to compromise, the markets are going to crash. they're going to blame it on him and the republicans. he loses further ground. i mean, you can't go lower than zero approval rating. we're in single digits. it's only our family and friends that have any appreciation for what we're doing, chris. so what's the end game? and we don't know it. you know, this is not a fiscal plan he's offering tonight. it's a political play to appease the right wing not only within his party but in their constituent bases. but, you know, normally members would be home with their families for the holidays. we're going to be here at least through saturday, then again on the 27th, probably every day between christmas and new year's, and what are we accomplishing? nothing. >> i wonder -- i don't know what, gene and congressman moran, i don't know what the
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markets of the world in hong kong and all around the world are going to think of the united states for klutzing it up and again not passing the deadline that congress set for itself. thank you -- >> well, incidentally, chris, can i just say as a member of defense appropriations for 20 great secretary of defense. i completely agree with you, my friend. >> we're going to get to him later. i agree with you on him. we'll be right back. congressman jim moran of virginia, eugene robinson from "the washington post." the tide is beginning to turn as more pro-gun members come out in favor of new gun control laws. even senator casey of pennsylvania. is america ready to get serious about curbing gun violence? and on benghazi, high-ranking officials said the department made mistakes and must do better, but hillary clinton wasn't there today. why are some on the right savaging former republican senator chuck hagel?
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he's emerged as a strong contender to be the next secretary of defense. finally sarah palin pans "time" magazine's pick of person of the year. but wait until you hear her reasoning. it's straight out of the marx brothers, and this is "hardball," the place for politics. [ male announcer ] when it comes to the financial obstacles military families face, we understand. at usaa, we know military life is different. we've been there. that's why every bit of financial advice we offer is geared specifically to current and former military members and their families. [ laughs ] dad! dad! [ applause ] ♪ [ male announcer ] life brings obstacles. usaa brings advice. call or visit us online. we're ready to help.
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one of the highest profile election campaigns of the new year will be the race for new jersey governor. if you were hoping to see chris christie up against cory booker, you're out of luck. he announced he won't take on christie, whose approval ratings have soared. booker is planning to run for the u.s. senate seat held by frank lautenberg. lautenberg, who is 88 years old, would be up for re-election in 2014. we'll be right back. [ male announcer ] this is amy. amy likes to invest in the market.
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back to "hardball." vice president joe biden held a meeting today of his gun safety
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task force and law enforcement officials were there today as the administration begins deliberating how to prevent tragedies like the one in sandy hook elementary last week. some historically pro-gun lawmakers came out in support of the assault weapons ban. can they rally their colleagues to act and act swiftly? big question for me tonight, and with me tonight are msnbc political analyst ron reagan and real clear politics reporter erin mcpike. i was stunned to see bobby casey, the senator from pennsylvania, who is a classic pennsylvanian, in the past he's received a b plus or an a rating from the nra. he told "the philadelphia enquirer" he will come back for -- coming out for a new assault weapons ban and legislation banning high round magazines. he said his decision amounted to being summoned by your conscience. he said his wife had pressed him to rethink his position on gun safety in the wake of newtown. he said the power of the weapon, the number of bullets that hit each child, that was so, to me, just so chilling, it haunts me. it should haunt every public official. if those two bills come before
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the senate, i will vote for both. that's a risky, strong position by bob casey. >> he's not the only one. joe manchin, the senator from west virginia, on monday was saying this has changed his thinking. of course, these are two democrats -- >> but manchin hasn't said he will vote for these two bills. bobby casey said he will. it's different to have conversations, another to make a commitment. >> i think there will be more and more lawmakers who will follow what casey has done. i don't think he's the only one, and i think we'll start seeing some republicans -- >> it's the toughest case. let me go to ron reagan. i know pennsylvania defeated years ago joe clark, a great liberal senator, on this issue. first guy i ever voted for actually. now it's back. i know the people on the gun side of the argument, i know them closely. they will be out there vigilantly looking for any traitor they find, anybody who dares to vote for any kind of restriction, and any restrictions ends your virginity. you are the enemy.
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your thoughts? >> well, it's great that bob casey has come out for these things, but if all that happens at the end of the day is that we have a ban on a certain type of weapon or a certain type of magazine with a certain type of capacity, 100 bullets, let's say, we'll have failed here. you know, it's not just about the guns. it's how people get guns. what people have to do in order to get guns. we should be treating these more like automobile licenses. you should have to prove you know how to use these things. you should prove you understand the law around the use of guns and things like that. if we start talking about that, then we'll be realistic. i think what's happening now for a lot of these politicians is we've had this moment here in our culture which is pretty horrific, and they're running for the hills a little bit, running scared, so they're going to look for something they can do that is maybe better than nothing but largely cosmetic. just like the assault weapons ban was largely cosmetic. >> give me a ron reagan gun bill. >> a ron reagan gun bill says just like when you want to buy a
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car or drive a car, you have to go and prove that you understand the laws surrounding the use of your gun. you have to prove you know how to use your gun, how to store your gun, how to clean your gun. you've got to go through a background check, of course, whether you buy the gun at a gun show or anywhere else. think of the stupidity of the gun show loophole. i mean, was bob casey talking about that? the fact you can buy a gun over here at this gun dealer and you have to go through a background check. you cross the street to the gun show, no background check. where are crazy people and criminals going to buy their guns? >> why do we have to have gun shows? >> good question. >> a gun show. >> so people -- so people can buy guns without a background check apparently. >> erin, there's a problem there. i have to tell you we have a supreme court which is slap happy. we have a supreme court that believes in the purest definition, purest interpretation of the second
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amendment. forget the militia, give everybody a gun. how do you say you have to learn how to drive a car. that's the law because driving a car is a license, not a right. to get on the highways is considered a privilege. holding a gun at any age at any time for any reason seems to be a right by the definition of the supreme court. >> okay. well, we are also a little bit far away from having a new law be tested by the supreme court. this is going to go through congress first. you're probably going to have a new justice or two before something would get to the supreme court. >> this bill is supposed to get written by next month. >> that's what they say -- >> i think he's going to insist on it. >> i do think that the proposals will come out next month, but it still will be legislated and go through hearings -- >> here is something that really feasts on negatively. here is speaker boehner not ruling out the possibility of some gun control legislation, but catch his act. this is what the republican party has been brought down to.
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they have to kiss the butt of the gun guys. take a look. >> we join the president in mourning the victims of the horrible tragedy in connecticut. he's appointed vice president biden to lead a commission. when the vice president's recommendations come forward, we'll certainly take them into consideration. at this point i think our hearts and souls ought to be to think about those victims in this -- >> so you're hoping -- >> did you catch that, ron? that the we're not supposed to think about gun control. we're supposed to think about how terrible what happened is but don't think about why it may have happened or what could be done to stop it from happening. that would be desecrating the memory. you know, these guys hide behind this. they say don't think about what caused it. show reverence. it seems to me consider it to think about making sure something like this doesn't happen again if you can as part of your good sentiment. you don't just say, too bad, and
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move on. you go, too bad, let's see what we can do about it. that seems to be a positive sentiment. >> it is fair enough to say there's a bigger problem here than just guns. there's a problem with mental health issues. there's a problem with just the violent nature of our society from our entertainment to our sports to our foreign policy, but those are all bigger issues that are going to take generations to solve. the one part of this puzzle that we can do something about right now, and that is an essential part of the puzzle, is the availability of powerful weaponry. when the founding fathers wrote the second amendment, they never envisioned 100-round magazines or semiautomatic or automatic weapons. antonin scalia when he came up with his ruling about individual right to keep and bear arms, he said that that didn't preclude regulations for, you know, very dangerous or unusual weapons. well, i'll tell you, in the colonial era, a semiautomatic pistol would have been a very dangerous or unusual weapon since everybody was using muzzle loading flintlocks. >> it took several minutes to
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reload a musket. >> one shot. >> by kiss the butt, i meant the butt of the gun. the nra will be holding a press conference. they released a statement that said the nra is prepared to offer meaningful contributions to help make sure this never happens again. erin, what do you think they mean by that, the nra? what do you think they will support? >> i think they know that something is going to be passed, and it will serve them best to be in this fight from the very beginning. not a fight really. i think they're serious. i think they know this is a problem, and it would just be best for them -- >> you mean they'll support some gun restrictions. >> i think they will absolutely. >> when have they done it before? >> i can't say but -- >> when have they done it before? they have never done it before. >> they never have, but when they say they want to give some meaningful contributions, they mean it. >> they'll talk about mental illness, possible checks on mental illness, the video culture of our society, they'll talk about everything but guns. your thought, ron. we have to get out of here, but i don't have any confidence in the nra. you may be right. >> meaningful contributions, cosmetic contributions is what they're looking for.
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but erin is right, they're looking to get on board this thing so they can steer the train, as it were. >> i think they believe in the absolute right to carry a gun and to bear arms, and they don't want to hear anything about that until something really awful happens, and to them i don't think it's happened yet. anyway, thank you. you may be right. i hope you are. ron reagan, thank you very much. merry christmas to you and, erin mcpike, the same. you would expect sarah palin to dump all over "time" magazine for naming president obama as person of the year. begin.
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well, it has something to do with this famous groucho line. i don't want to belong to any club that will accept me as a member. here is palin weighing in on "time" magazine's selection of president obama for person of the year. >> "time" magazine, i think there's some irrelevancy there to tell you the truth. consider their list of the most influential people in the country and in the world, some who have made that list, yours truly. that ought to tell you something right there. >> that ought to tell you something right there. there's the groucho connection. she can't be on board with the pick because they considered her back in 2008. humor columnist andy borowitz went in a different direction saying mitt romney could be person of the year if the year was 1912. he wrote a man of the year spoof. quote, even though his quest for the presidency was unsuccessful, mr. romney's ideas about foreign policy, taxation, wealth inequality, and women's rights typified the year 1912 as no one else has.
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mr. romney could not be reached for comment. a spokesman said because he was traveling around the world visiting his money. next, victory for science. louisiana governor bobby jindal has a history of backing legislation that supports teaching creationism in public schools, but one new orleans school district is saying no thanks. school officials voted in favor of new rules out of concern that state law could open up the door to including creationism in science classes. they refuse to follow in the footsteps of texas which sets the standard for many schools. the approved rule states, quote, no history textbook shall be approved which has been adjusted in accordance with the state of texas revisionist guidelines. no teacher of any discipline of science shall teach creationism or intelligent design in classes designated as science classes. the facts prevail. wonderful. the political low light from last night's miss universe competition. the contestant from venezuela fielded a question about what new law she would want to put in place. she chose not to answer through a translator, but you might find yourself hoping something got
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lost in translation. >> if you could make a new law, what would it be and explain why. >> i think that we should have a straight way to go in our similar or -- in our live. for example, i am a -- and i think the best that i can take is the way that i wait for it. so please do our only low that we can do. thank you, vegas. >> even though she earned zero points for that answer, overall scores put her in third place. miss usa won. up next, the benghazi hearings and the state department is now in the eye of the storm. you're watching "hardball," the place for politics. imagine living your life with less chronic low back pain. imagine you, with less pain.
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here's what's happening. the house has gone into an unexpected recess tonight ahead of a vote. is that recess is speculation republicans realize they do not have enough votes to pass it. and peter madoff, a brother of bernard madoff has been sentenced to prison. back to "hardball." welcome back to "hardball." there was some tough questioning today for the state department in the senate and house hearings about the benghazi attack. two senior officials testified and acknowledged that the department needs to do better and make improvements to prevent something like this from happening again.
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this week an independent investigation concluded there were, quote, systemic failures at the state department in the run up to the deadly attack. the report led to the resignation of four senior state department officials including the head of diplomatic security. here was bob corker taking the department to task. let's watch. >> what i saw in the report is the department that has sclerosis, that doesn't think outside the box, that is not using the resources that it has in any kind of creative ways, is not prioritizing. i cannot imagine that we had people out there with a lack of security existing. it seems to me that what the state department would have done is to prioritize and if, in fact, we cannot have people safely there, not send them there. >> well, absent from today's hearing, secretary of state hillary clinton. she's expected to testify next month on the same questions, but today's focus was the failure of clinton's state department to recognize the deteriorating security environment in benghazi, so what are the lessons from benghazi and how
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high should the focus go. mike o'hanlon and pete j. crowley. the same question as experts in this field. is this the kind of thing that happens when we have nervy, courageous diplomats who are willing to go into dangerous areas and it just happens? that occasionally the enemy erupts up out of nowhere, you can't predict the next turbulent storm to hit in these areas of the third world, especially in post-revolutionary libya. and it's not really anybody's fault unless everything that happens bad is somebody's fault. >> it's an important question. >> which is it? >> i have a nuanced answer. this was clearly not the state department's finest hour and it's easy to say in retrospect. also, i will make an analogy with military commanders in the field who often make decisions that could be second-guessed and sometimes wind up getting people killed unnecessarily, but you don't assess a battlefield commander's entire tenure on one call. this was not the best decision that could have been made, and we need to accept a certain
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amount of tough criticism. >> whose decision was it? was it ambassador steven's decision to go into an area where there wasn't a regular government or police force. there wasn't really a host government there to protect. they relied on militia who were unpredictable and dangerous. >> the larger point i agree with. in this case we have to avoid a zero defect, zero casualty mentality. it will prevent us from having an effective foreign policy. there are some innate dangers, and sometimes correct decisions will lead to people getting killed because that's the way the world works. in this case i think it's fair to ask if the state department should have made some better decisions. but i don't see it as the sort of thing that amounts to a huge error.
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it's worth going back and asking how we can prevent it from happening in the future, but it was not a huge error. >> do we want -- mr. crowley, do we want diplomats, career people to become ambassador in tricky areas? do we want them to be the kind of people that go to benghazi to try to deal with the militia or do we want somebody who stays back in the protection of our embassy? what kind of guy or woman do you want? >> you want chris stevens, and you want him exactly where he was. to senator corker's clip, ironically this was the state department thinking outside the box. chris stevens had been in benghazi in the midst of the civil war advising the rebel group that became eventually the interim government, and he was back in benghazi for the first time since he had been a special envoy there as ambassador. i mean, obviously i think you touched on it, chris. the miscalculation here was thinking that in a post-conflict environment like libya, the same normal rules of the vienna
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convention apply, that the host nation can provide for security. so i think much as the military learned from experiences like beirut in 1983, khobar towers in 1986, that when you deploy people in dangerous situations, you have to concentrate on force protection and bring the resources with you that can provide an adequate level of protection. the state department has to rethink how it operates in these kinds of environments. >> i still remember '83, and i think that was the wrong decision to put our troops there with no purpose but to guard the airport. it was a symbol of strength, not strength. new york congressman gary ackerman is retiring, and he had strong words for his fellow representatives, i think especially republicans, at today's house hearing on this matter. let's watch gary ackerman. >> this might be my final six moments to speak in my 30-year career here, and i want to first start by apologizing to the deputy secretaries because you have been brought here as a ruse. you are being used as foils to the conflicting intentions of some people on our committee and
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others in washington for partisan, political purposes. >> i have always liked gary ackerman. i went to ethiopia with him. i like him even more now. what do you think of these assessments? are these hearings a witch hunt? what are they about? >> they're about political politics, and we saw that with the episode preceding involving susan rice, but at the heart of this, the congress -- resource is not the only answer. the congress bears some responsibility here. when a defense budget goes up to the hill, congressmen trip over themselves thinking what can i add to this budget? when a state department budget goes to the hill, they look at
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what can i subtract from it? the chairwoman of that committee has been very outspoken about chopping the significant sums of money out of foreign assistance. so ultimately there are, you know, two agendas here, and to get the lessons learned and integrate those into state department operations, there are going to have to be more resources devoted to this task. >> let me ask you both this question, how many troops can we put in a facility which is basically associated with a cia operation in benghazi? we can't plant a small military force there without causing all kinds of trouble, a show of force like we did in lebanon, beirut, back in '83. you just invite the kind of attack we had back then. let me go to michael on this. why would you want to put a big detachment or contingent with u.s. troops with all that firepower in a place like benghazi without expecting that to be a lightning rod for any local militia that wanted to make its bones? >> i would say you're right, you can't have it be huge. you could put a couple dozen people there however, and i
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think there's a good chance they could have held off this attack, but your larger point i agree with. i agree with your larger point, which is there are going to be some attacks you can't repulse with a small force. that's the kind of uncertainty you live with in a world where you have to operate in dangerous places. i think the larger point is state probably should have done some things differently here. congress probably should have done some things differently here, as p.j. says. let's all learn from this together. let's try to make sure we do better the next time, but let's not pretend we can get to a zero defect, zero risk foreign policy. >> quickly, p.j., do you know of any evidence, this is getting around the right wing saying they called for help, they refused to bring help because they wanted to keep this low key, they didn't want terrorism to look too big for the election. any truth to that? >> i don't think so. there are still questions we don't know the answers to, who did this and why. but, no, there was no cover-up here. there was a tragedy, and as mike said, we have to learn the lessons and apply them smartly so we can do better next time.
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>> merry christmas. thank you for coming on. why are so many republicans hating or attacking -- why are they attacking chuck hagel, the neocons, the former republican senator who may end up as the next secretary of defense? he's a man who doesn't believe in war as the first solution to every problem, and they're at the opposite end of that argument. this is "hardball," the place for politics. ♪ [ male announcer ] it started long ago. the joy of giving something everything you've got.
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and while president obama says all options are on the table for preventing a nuclear iran, hagel says military action is not a viable, feasible, responsible option. president obama, for secretary of defense, chalk hagel is not a responsible option. >> well, "the new yorker" magazine's ryan lizza tweeted this week, the coming attacks on chuck hagel will make the susan rice episode seem quaint. those attacks have already started. one senior republican aide told "the weekly standard," that's the neocon magazine i happen to read every week, quote, send us hagel and we will make every american knows he's an anti-semite. it stems there comments he made in 2008 in an interview about the power of aipac. hagel said he was a strong supporter of israel but said the jewish lobby intimidates a lot of people up here. i'm a united states senator, not an israeli senator. many people have defended his potential nomination.
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his views on foreign policy are far from being outside the mainstream. what is really motivating his critics? jack reed is a democratic senator from rhode island, and dana milbank is a columnist for "the washington post." senator reed, you know, one of our producers who is pretty sharp said that chuck hagel is barack obama with a war record. >> they think very much alike, except one guy's got a purple heart. your thoughts, how would you size him up as a former colleague ied logically in terms of peace and war and issues. >> first of all, chris, you've pointed out this is someone who's been in combat. instantaneously, the men and women in the armed forces who's who's received two purple hearts. instantaneously the men and women in the armed forces will know that at the top of the pentagon is someone who has literally walked in their boots, that experiences -- has experienced what they experience.
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and that i think is a huge asset that he brings. as far as his foreign policy credentials go, he has been a very thoughtful and very congress observer of shifting foreign policies all across the globe. not just in one area. but i think most compelling comments referencing israel, nine former u.s. ambassadors, including some who are our ambassador to israel, say they show he's a strong supporter of israel, as we should be. they are our most important ally in that region. >> well, let's go to the neocons who i tend to go to battle with because i think they always liked the iraq war, i always hated it. i wonder about this insistence why we have to be so militarized as a country, so insistent on using our battlefield strength as our first diplomatic move. hagel's not of that belief. he's one of these guys like anwar sadat, like yitzchak rabin who've been to war and know it's an alternative. >> he's a foreign policy realist, which used to be quite a dominant strain here. and i think a lot of the reason
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the neocons are opposed to him now is because he was president bush's most strident critic, certainly within the republican party, an adamant critic of the war, and he just has the view that war is actually your last option. it's not something you do because he fought and -- >> what percentage -- you're a journalist, you're a great columnist. what percentage of the american people when they think about it think that the iraq war was necessary? that it was the move we had to make that cost all those lives. >> well, certainly the polls show that the vast majority did not think it was necessary in the end. now, chuck hagel is not some sort of a dove. he voted to go into iraq. he voted for afghanistan, the conflicts in the balkans. but he believes in multilateral action. that's why he's opposed sanctions against iran when it's unilateral sanctions because he says that doesn't work, it needs to be done in concert with the world community. >> well, let me ask you, jack reed, senator, what do you think about this? do you think there's any chance the president has considered this fella and would pull him back because of the level of criticism that's come so far? ? enough to make the president change his mind about someone he
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believes in and shares the views of? >> well, the president will ultimately make the judgment about who he sends up here. but i think he would be on strong ground if he sent up chuck's name. chuck is quite prepared to answer all these questions. they're all questions that should and could be asked. but again, as dana said, this is someone who has a very sound, realistic view of foreign policy, of military policy. based upon his one experience as a soldier himself. two, his experience in the senate dealing with these issues. so i think he brings great credibility, great integrity to the office. and by the way, the foreign policy of the united states is not set by the secretary of defense. he will be carrying out the foreign policy of the president of the united states. and he'll be giving him the military options. but he'll be giving him those options with i think the hardest and closest scrutiny because he understands ultimately young americans have to carry the battle, not a lot of people who
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are commentating on his credibility today. >> sure, the armchair generals. but i definitely -- i don't like chicken hawks either. the guys who are the most hawkish people in the world with never think of putting a uniform on. but here's a question about this. what i was so stirred by when i read his comment, when he was being medevaced in vietnam and he's lying there wounded ready to be picked up, i guess put on a helicopter, he remembers thinking at that time, i've got to do everything i can when i get back to the states to make sure that war is a last resort, not a first resort. having been in -- you've been in the military. does that sound like something that would drive a man into his public life afterwards? did that experience of being wounded in battle and seeing the suffering in battle that's worse than your own suffering would drive your political and public career thereafter. >> well, i was not in combat. i served 12 years in the united states army, paratrooper and ranger, but chuck has been in combat. i'm sure it has left a distinct impression on him. as dana pointed out, he did support the efforts in iraq, but he didn't do it unquestioningly.
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he didn't do it without raising questions, continually asking for a better policy, more answers. and that's what i think you want in someone who might be the secretary of defense. and this is, perhaps coincidental, but another great warrior, senator dan inouye, who we're laying to rest today, and a medal of honor winner, was also a critic of iraq. because i think he, not just in this one vote, but there was an entire career, understood the suffering and sacrifices that young americans make on behalf of this country and must make. >> let's talk about the israeli lobby, which is a strong lobby. we know that. it is properly called the israeli lobby. they're very concerned about the security of israel. he with write about it, we talk about it, we know the people who are in it. it seems to me to the extent you're willing to be critical of an israeli government, whether it's the netanyahu government or not. some have been more questioning. others say like invading lebanon wasn't the smartest move in the world. where would you put hagel on that one? >> i think where chuck hagel got in trouble was one remark where
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he referred to the jewish lobby instead of the israel lobby. >> why is that wrong? explain to the viewers. >> because a lot of the pro-israel lobby are conservative christians. and a lot of american jews are quite liberal and are not necessarily -- >> i am very aware of both differences and i'm glad you said it. >> so he misspoke and he said that he misspoke. >> by the way, in the context of other times in the same article where he said the israeli lobby over and over again. so he got it right. and we have to get it right. anyway, thank you. dana milbank. a great columnist. and thank you, senator jack reed for joining us tonight. >> thanks, chris. >> we're going to be right back. if you are one of the millions of men who have used androgel 1%, there's big news. presenting androgel 1.62%.
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